John O'Shea in the dressing room after the 2008 Champions League final with Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Nani, Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Michael Carrick

John O'Shea's top team-mates XI

Thursday 30 April 2020 02:00

An Academy graduate who first broke into the team in 1999, John O’Shea enjoyed a 12-year career at Manchester United, playing in virtually every position along the way.

The versatile Irishman made a total of 393 appearances for the Reds, placing him comfortably in the top 50 of our all-time list, and was present for some of the club’s greatest occasions, including five Premier League title wins and the 2008 Champions League final success in Moscow.

A 118-cap Republic of Ireland international, he left Old Trafford in 2011 and then played for a further eight years at Sunderland and Reading before hanging up his boots last summer.

O’Shea’s longevity with United means his XI of most common team-mates is entirely composed of former Reds. We think this side would take some beating…


Edwin Van der Sar (185 appearances with O’Shea)

O’Shea was already well-established in the United dressing room by the time the legendary Dutch keeper signed from Fulham in the summer of 2005. Van der Sar proved to be the long-term goalkeeping solution the Reds had been looking for since Peter Schmeichel’s departure: United won four titles in six seasons with the former Ajax keeper between the sticks. O’Shea was a regular member of the reliable back four in front of Edwin, contributing to an incredible run of 14 consecutive clean sheets during the 2008/09 Premier League. He even took the gloves from our no.1 at Tottenham in 2007, when van der Sar had to depart injured towards the end of a 4-0 win. Needless to say, John kept the net unbreached!

O'Shea and van der Sar won the last of their four titles together in 2011.


Gary Neville (177), Wes Brown (261), Rio Ferdinand (247), Mikael Silvestre (183)

Sheasy could play anywhere across United’s backline and a defence composed of his most common team-mates is therefore strong in all positions. Gary Neville, who, like van der Sar, retired in the same year O’Shea departed Manchester, is our starting right-back, with Mikael Silvestre – also a very versatile player – occupying the opposite flank ahead of Patrice Evra, who made the position his own in O’Shea’s later years. Wes Brown joined Sunderland with John in 2011 and, with 261 appearances alongside the Republic of Ireland international, he gets the nod to start alongside Rio Ferdinand in central defence. In fact, Wes was on the same pitch as O’Shea for 17,379 minutes during his career – that’s an impressive 289 hours of football!


Cristiano Ronaldo (215), Darren Fletcher (194), Paul Scholes (248), Ryan Giggs (275)

John will be very familiar with each of his midfield team-mates, having played alongside three of our four selections over 200 times. Cristiano Ronaldo, who featured alongside Sheasy between 2003 and 2009 is our right winger, while Ryan Giggs, John’s most common team-mate of all and United’s record appearance-maker, will be causing mayhem down the left flank. In the middle, another Red favourite who was there for the entirety of O’Shea’s United stint, Paul Scholes, plays next to Darren Fletcher. As well as O’Shea, the Scot can lay claim to being one of the most underrated components of the Red machine during our spell of dominance in the first decade of the 21st century.

What a midfield!


Wayne Rooney (202), Ruud van Nistelrooy (137)

This is some attack! Sheasy’s good friend and United’s all-time top goalscorer Wayne Rooney played with our underrated Irishman between 2004 and 2011, encompassing 220 games – only 27 of which were lost. Rooney replaced Ruud van Nistelrooy as our main goal threat when the Dutchman left for Real Madrid in 2006. Although O’Shea only really broke into the first-team as a regular during the 2002/03 season, Ruud gets in as our second striker.

Van der Sar; Neville, Brown, 
Ferdinand, Silvestre; Ronaldo, Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs; Rooney, Van Nistelrooy.

Ruud and Rooney would score bucketloads in this side!


Our need to formulate a cohesive XI means some who shared a dressing room with Sheasy for years are unlucky to miss out. Unlike the first team, our substitutes contain a smattering of Sunderland, with Vito Mannone (69), Sebastian Larsson (168) and Lee Cattermole (138) all long-serving players at the Stadium of Light during John’s spell in the north-east. The aforementioned Evra is unlucky to miss out, alongside former Reds Nemanja Vidic (144), Ji-Sung Park (107) and Phil Neville (102).

Stats courtesy of

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